Much has been made over Mitchell Pearce’s poor winning percentage at Origin level, but where does he stand in the realm of the least successful players to grace the interstate arena?
After New South Wales’ record-breaking victory in this year’s series opener, the maligned halfback improved his record to five wins in 16 outings – a win percentage of 31.25 percent, which elevates him outside the top 14 losing-est Origin players of those who have played six-plus matches.
Some of the modern era’s most revered names featured in this list of players whose Origin winning percentage stands at less than 30 percent.
WORST WINNING PERCENTAGES IN STATE OF ORIGIN HISTORY (Minimum 6 matches)
Greg Alexander (NSW) – 6 matches (1989-91): 0 wins, 6 losses (0%)
Penrith’s favourite son and two-time Kangaroo Tour star Alexander holds the unenviable record for most Origin appearances without tasting victory. Belatedly debuting in 1989 – a series that saw the Blues concede 88 points in going down 3-0 – ‘Brandy’s’ only other appearances were in the 1990 dead-rubber, and the first and last games of the ’91 campaign, with the Maroons winning each game by a narrow margin.
TURN BACK TIME 🔁
— NSW Blues 🔵 (@NSWRL) May 24, 2017
Brad Thorn (QLD) – 11 matches (1996-2005): 1 win, 9 losses, 1 draw (9.1%)
Code-hopping icon Brad Thorn won as many Rugby World Cups as he did Origin games. Part of the Queensland sides swept 3-0 in 1996 and 2000, Thorn went winless in his first eight Origins. After returning from his first stint as an All Black, the hulking forward celebrated in the Maroons’ golden point win in the 2005 series opener before the Blues came back to win the remaining two games.
Craig Greenhill (QLD) – 6 matches (1996-2000): 1 win, 4 losses, 1 draw (16.7%)
Best known as the first player sent off in an Origin match – marched for his coathanger on Paul Harragon in Game 2 of the ’96 series – Cronulla and Penrith hard-man Greenhill featured in all three matches of the drawn ’99 series that saw the shield remain in Queensland, but he nevertheless finished with an unflattering win ratio.
Alan Thompson (NSW) – 6 matches (1980-84): 1 win 5 losses (16.7%)
NSW’s five-eighth in the inaugural Origin match in 1980, the Manly veteran featured in the Blues’ first-ever win in the ’82 series opener before losing the remaining four games he played for his state.
Michael Ennis (NSW) – 8 matches (2009-15): 2 wins, 6 losses (25%)
The niggly No.9 won on debut (Game 3, 2009) after unseating Robbie Farah, but enjoyed just one more victory as NSW’s hooker for the entire 2010-11 series. Would have been spared from this list had he not been drafted in for an injured Farah for the Blues’ record 52-6 loss in the 2015 decider.
John Ferguson (NSW) – 8 matches (1985-89): 2 wins, 6 losses (25%)
One of the 1980s’ most brilliant wing-men, ‘Chicka’ featured in the Blues’ maiden series win in 1985. Overlooked in subsequent seasons, however, Ferguson lost his last six games after being recalled for the 1988-89 series whitewash defeats. He remains NSW’s oldest player (34 years and 348 days).
Kurt Gidley (NSW) – 12 matches (2007-11): 3 wins, 9 losses (25%)
Dead-rubber wins in 2007 and ’09, and a victory in Game 2 of the 2011 series is all Gidley had to show for seven Origin appearances off the bench and five starts at fullback. The Newcastle great captained the Blues in five games – including a match in 2010 despite being selected in the interchange contingent – for just one win.
Des Hasler (NSW) – 12 matches (1985-91): 3 wins, 9 losses (25%)
A fine contributor for the Blues at halfback, five-eighth, lock and off the bench, Hasler’s only win in his first eight Origin appearances was in the 1987 exhibition match in California. He helped NSW seal the 1990 series, before featuring in all three games of the epic ’91 series won 2-1 by Queensland.
Jason Hetherington (QLD) – 8 matches (1998-2000): 2 wins, 5 losses, 1 draw (25%)
Finished on the winning side in the 1998 and ’99 series openers, and the drawn decider in the latter year, but the rugged hooker’s Origin tenure ended via the 3-0 rout in the 2000 series.
Martin Lang (QLD) – 8 matches (1998-2000): 2 wins, 5 losses, 1 draw (25%)
Kamikaze Cronulla prop Lang played in the same eight games as Hetherington. Famously ran down Blues winger Rod Wishart on debut in the 1998 series opener but was dropped ahead of the decider that year and was cast aside permanently by the Maroons after the disastrous whitewash of 2000.
Brett White (NSW) – 8 matches (2007-10): 2 wins, 6 losses (25%)
White rose from relative obscurity into the NSW team on the back of his form for Melbourne, but his most indelible contribution to the Origin narrative was knocking Steve Price out in the 2009 dead-rubber win at Suncorp Stadium. Also featured in the Blues’ victory in the 2008 series opener.
Ben Creagh (NSW) – 11 matches (2009-12): 3 wins, 8 losses (27.3%)
Missed only one game from 2009-12, and became the first forward to score two tries in an Origin game in over 20 years as the Blues won the infamous ’09 dead-rubber. In fact, Creagh scored four tries in his first four outings for NSW – but wins were harder to come by as Queensland extended its record-shattering series winning streak.
Terry Lamb (NSW) – 7 matches (1981-89): 2 wins, 5 losses (28.6%)
One of the great players of the 1980s and ‘90s, Lamb featured in two matches of the Blues’ history-making cleansweep in 1986 but finished on the losing side the other five times he turned out in the Origin arena – four of those opposite Wally Lewis.
Chris McKenna (QLD) – 7 matches (1999-2002): 2 wins, 5 losses (28.6%)
Centre/back-rower McKenna’s win ratio is a little deceiving – he played all three matches of the drawn 1999 and 2002 series that saw Queensland retain the shield, while his only other appearance was in the record 56-16 loss in the 2000 dead-rubber. Sharks star McKenna was man of the match in the Maroons’ series-saving victory in Game 2 of the ’02 campaign.
Gorden Tallis (QLD) – 17 matches (1994-2003): 5 wins, 10 losses, 2 draws (29.4%)
A genuine Origin great, it seems incongruous that ‘Gordzilla’ won less than a third of his Origin matches. The Maroons won only two of the seven series Tallis competed in (1998 and 2001, playing only the series opener in the latter due to injury), but they did retain the shield in two other drawn series. Being sent off for dissent in Game 1 of the 2000 whitewash defeat was a low point, but Tallis went on to skipper Queensland in his last seven Origin appearances for three wins, three losses and a draw.